Sunday, June 17, 2007

Limits weighed for sex offenders

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06/17/2007

As two Heart of the Valley communities near decisions on whether to limit the residency of sex offenders, two more will begin discussions on the issue.

Kimberly and Little Chute could vote on sex offender residency restrictions at their respective village board meetings Monday and Wednesday.

The Combined Locks Village Board and the Buchanan Town Board list the sex offender ordinances for general discussion at their Tuesday meetings.

The Freedom Town Board discussed a sex offender ordinance at his meeting Wednesday and directed Police Chief Jim Molloy to gather data. He expects to have a presentation prepared by early July.

In Combined Locks, trustees believe restrictions should at least be discussed based on proposals in neighboring communities, Police Chief Steven Wulgaert said.

“Whether the board takes any further action remains to be seen,” he said.

Both the Little Chute and Kimberly proposals were introduced on concern that ordinances elsewhere could push offenders into communities that didn’t have similar restrictions. Green Bay, for example, passed its restrictions in March.

Kimberly and Little Chute ordinances would prohibit child sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks, and other locales that children frequent. The buffer zone would eliminate all but small parts of both villages to offenders seeking homes.

Police Chief David Peterson of the Fox Valley Metro Police Department, which serves Kimberly and Little Chute, said he began tailoring Green Bay’s ordinance to fit Kimberly and Little Chute on the request of trustees in each village.

The proposals have drawn some opposition.

A state corrections official spoke against the proposal at Little Chute’s meeting last Wednesday. Tom Smith, a Neenah-based sex offender specialist with the Department of Corrections, argued that restrictions give residents a false sense of security and only serve to drive sex offenders underground.

Peterson acknowledged that a growing number of restriction ordinances could make it tougher for the state to keep track of sex offenders, though he said it’s his duty to protect the interests of the two villages under his jurisdiction.

“I don’t see how it would (negatively) affect Little Chute and Kimberly,” he said.

Peterson said he also drew concern from a resident who wondered whether the ordinance’s broad reach could extend to teens convicted for having sex with a younger girlfriend or boyfriend. Peterson said an appeals board that would be created as part of the ordinance could handle those issues on a case-by-case basis.

While discussion on restrictions has spread since Green Bay’s ordinance passage, not all communities have been quick to follow its lead.

Sherwood officials discussed residency restrictions last month, but chose not to take action.

“I think it’s something the trustees are interested in doing, but I think they want to let Green Bay be the test case,” Village Coordinator Joshua Van Lieshout said. “We’ll let a bigger place take on that burden.”

Waupaca officials also chose against moving forward after maps showed an ordinance would prohibit offenders from living anywhere in the city.

Waupaca Police Chief Tim Goke said his department has been able to keep close tabs on offenders through door-to-door visits.

He expects restrictions will eventually be settled statewide through legislation.

“Is it something that’s going to keep our community safer?” Goke asked. “I don’t have a clear-cut answer.”


Fear drives vigilantism in communities: expert

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06/17/2007

VANCOUVER -- When a newly released convict moves to the neighbourhood fear, misinformation and an uneducated community can escalate to vigilantism, possibly prompting the con to reoffend just to get back to jail.

That's the assessment from both former criminals and an expert who studies crime after the recent furor surrounding two sex offenders who moved into neighbourhoods in B.C.

"Fear makes you make stupid choices, and the community, by being fearful, isn't going to correct this problem," Glen Flett said of the hysteria surrounding Paul Callow, the man known as the balcony rapist in Toronto.
- Amen! Like pass a bunch of stupid, insane laws that will not and are not working!

Callow moved to his sister's home in Surrey to much protest and media attention after spending 20 years in jail.
- The media fuels the fire for ratings, which brings them more money.

Residents in the south-Okanagan also recently voiced loud opposition when convicted sex offender Ronald Tenecyke moved to the town of Oliver.

Flett is the founder of the group LINC, or Long Term Inmates now in the Community, and is the same man convicted for killing a Hudson's Bay manager during a Brink's hold-up in Toronto in 1980.
- 27 years ago, and people still fear him. People do change you know! Give the guy a break!

He's worked with hundreds of offenders returning to the outside, and knows what it's like to try to fit into the community while being labelled a psychopathic killer.

Flett said for an offender, fitting into a community is mandatory.
- Amen!

"Because if he doesn't fit he's going to harm. Eventually sooner or later, you're going to lose it. You're going to say why am I doing this, screw you buddy."
- And I've said this over and over. If you have support, then the risk of reoffending goes down, if you have vigilantes and other people out protesting, then the risk of another crime goes up!

And as soon as you say that, guess what, all hell is going to break lose."

Joe Normandin, 68, said he understands the need for community safety, but the bald fear present in Callow's Surrey community is a mistake.

"If you drive the guy from place to place to place...where's a place where he can be accepted? Where he can work on himself? Where he can get help?"

Normandin murdered a man in a drunken rage 48 years ago and has written a book about his experience called "Write of Passage."

He said it's very difficult at first to move into a community and if the media picks up on the story it's even harder to ask for help.
- Like I said, the media fuels the fire all for ratings, which makes the community less safe!

"It's all about change. But if people don't allow you to change, if they pigeon hole you and put you into a spot where you have no place to go, you're going to feel cut off."

Former convict Larry Howett calls the media furor "fearmongering."

He said the best protection for the public is to allow convicts to get on with their lives instead of trying to drum them out of the neighbourhood.

"You take a person like Callow and paint him into the corner and create more fear in him. It limits his options to the point where he does something desperate, out of fear, to go back to prison."
- Yes, you back someone into a corner, eventually they will lash out...

But the argument, he said, is as polarized as the death penalty because no one wants an offender - especially a sex offender - in their neighbourhood.

"The fact is we all have rights in this country," said Howett, who was known as a jail-house lawyer in his 30 years in prison for crimes connected to his heroin addiction, including armed robbery.
- Yes, EVERYONE has rights whether you like it or not. We are all American citizens. And this crap about, "well, you loose your rights when you commit the crime", is BS! You loose your rights until you get out of prison or jail, then you get some, if not all of those rights back, or you should.

"You don't pick and choose what group in society has different rights or special rights. Once that happens you end up with systems like Communism."
- Same thing I've said over and over and over again!

Despite what many people may believe, criminals are in your neighbourhood.
- Correct, murderers, gang members, drug dealers/users, DUI offenders, abusive fathers/mothers, thieves, etc. So if they were all on a registry, you'd be terrified!

Simon Fraser University criminology professor Neil Boyd noted that thousands of convicts are released from Canadian prisons every year.

"When people for example say they don't want to live among parolees. Well you do already, whether you know it or not. It's not as a high risk proposition as people make it out to be."

But it gets risky, he said, when neighbours start to feel fear because it changes their behaviour.

"If you understand more about who criminals are and about what happens to them over time, you'll realize that while there are a few (Paul) Bernardos and (Clifford) Olsons out there, for the most part people who are released from prisons are not walking time bombs."

Boyd said a lot more communication is necessary from service agencies and from the convict in order to reduce that panic in the neighbourhood.

"And I think when you hear from everyone you end up being a lot less fearful of crime."

Howett said Callow's move to Surrey was allowed to grow out of hand, even possibly putting his sister at risk simply because she wants to support him.

"What I take issue with is when they focus on a person to the point that vigilantism becomes a very real possibility."

Flett is proof killers can live in harmony in a community, although he admits he doesn't get along with everyone.
- Nobody does!

"I have one neighbour beside me who, every time I see her, looks at me like she wants to come over and bash me in the head," he said with a belly laugh.

"But that's OK, she has a right to feel that way. If I didn't have a life sentence, she probably would dislike me for some other reason."
- So true! People love to hate, and cannot forgive and forget. Hate is the easy way out!


City agrees to settlement in Dateline case

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06/14/2007

The Murphy City Council has agreed to a $255,000 settlement with a top administrator who resigned after the police department became involved in a controversial network news program aimed at catching pedophiles.

The settlement with former City Manager Craig Sherwood was reached early Thursday during a special council meeting that began Wednesday night and included a closed executive session regarding Sherwood's employment.

Neither Sherwood nor the council would comment on the settlement beyond a joint statement that was laced with mutual appreciation and well wishes for the future.

But Sherwood and the police department came under scrutiny last year when Dateline NBC baited 21 men as part of its To Catch a Predator series.

Murphy's involvement in the program rankled residents and elected officials who said it would lure child predators to the community.

And so far, no charges have stuck against the targeted men.

All have been freed because Collin County prosecutors have decided that Murphy police and decoys provided by Perverted-Justice.com, an online activist group, failed to bring sufficient evidence to win convictions.

Police Chief Billy Myrick, who reported to Sherwood, was unavailable for comment Thursday. Myrick has vowed, however, to refile the cases.

The police department worked with Perverted-Justice.com to devise computer sex stings, which were observed by Dateline and featured on To Catch a Predator.

The suspects included Louis Conradt Jr., the chief felony assistant attorney for Rockwall County, who in November shot himself at his home in Terrell as Murphy police and a Dateline camera crew gathered outside to arrest him.

Murphy police said Conradt solicited sex from a Perverted Justice decoy posing online as a 13-year-old.

Conradt, 56, was a former Kaufman County district attorney who unsuccessfully campaigned for a judgeship. He died at a Dallas hospital.


North's pre-crime sex offender unit

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This sounds so much like the Minority Report. The "thought" police are coming...

06/17/2007

The Government last week announced a raft of measures - including compulsory lie detector tests and "chemical castration" - to deal with sex offenders.

One recommendation in the Home Office report was to provide early access to treatment for people who have not been convicted of a crime, in a bid to prevent offences from ever occurring.

At the Sexual Behaviour Unit in Newcastle, professionals work with potential offenders to try and stop abuse before it has even started.

Expert Roger Kennington said: "Convicted sex offenders are just the tip of the iceberg. Only a fraction of offenders end up in the criminal justice system. Most abuse goes unreported or is unsuccessfully prosecuted."

Roger heads up the Sexual Behaviour Unit in Newcastle - the only one of its kind in the country - where potential offenders can be treated before a crime is committed.

He describes the programme, attached to St Nicholas Hospital, as a "one-stop shop" where worrying behaviour can be addressed at an early stage.

Roger said: "If someone comes to us I can assess them and, if I think there might be a personality disorder or a learning disability, I can refer them to a psychologist or psychiatrist straight away because we have them at the unit. We can tailor our treatment to that individual. When we were doing work and research into sex offenders in the 1990s, it became very clear that there was a gap in the market for individuals who were not currently in the criminal justice system.

"We deal with people who have not yet offended but who are heading that way, or who might have convictions from a long time ago, or someone who, for example, might be on social services' books but there is no statutory provision for them because they have not been convicted of anything.

"We are basically a repository for people who can't go anywhere else."

The unit runs 18-month treatment programmes in two groups for mainstream and individuals with learning difficulties. There is also a separate group for partners of men who have a history of sex offending.

Individuals are referred from social services, solicitors, employers, and professionals involved in child protection proceedings.

And a significant number of people even refer themselves for treatment. Roger said: "We get quite a few offenders concerned about their own behaviour and who will go to their doctor for help. For example, one man had a history of masturbating when he could see children through his window, and then he would go to places where he could see children.

"He began a relationship with a woman who had a daughter and he touched the child in a way he knew was sexual but she wasn't aware of it. He actually went to the police but, as the girl had not made a complaint, there was nothing they could do.

"He went to his GP because he knew what he'd done was wrong and realised he needed help, which is why he was referred to us."

The unit also works with the Department of Education, assessing teachers who have been disciplined for inappropriate contact with a pupil to see if they are a risk, and decide whether they should be allowed to continue in their job.

Although there are no reliable statistics to show how many people treated prior to convic- tion go on to offend, Roger says it is "low".

Studies have shown that the re-conviction rate for sex offenders who undergo cognitive behavioural therapy of the kind used in the unit is reduced by 50 per cent.

Roger says: "The public would see recall as a failure, but we don't. For example, I dealt with an offender who had been given a life sentence but suffered a mental breakdown so was moved out of the criminal justice system and sectioned into a special hospital.

"I was asked to assess him when his tariff was up and I believed he was still a risk, and a polygraph test backed up the factors I was concerned about, so he was sent back to prison to continue his life sentence."


Senate enacts 'Sex Offender Restricted Zone' plan

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Looks like Maine, after the killings of sex offenders there, are using their heads now. A restricted zone is better than a buffer zone that forces people from their homes. So they cannot go onto the property of these places, that is more sensible. But, it still will not prevent someone who is determined to commit another crime from doing so, nothing will. I commend Senator Diamond on using his head and common sense, it's about time.

06/17/2007

AUGUSTA : The Maine Senate enacted an amended version Friday of a proposal sponsored by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland County, which will limit sex offenders from having contact with children.

Under the new “sex offender restricted zone” plan, sex offenders would be prohibited from being near most pubic or private spaces where children are the typically the focus.

Examples of the zones would be a public or private elementary or middle school, child-care centers, child-care facilities, an athletic field, park, playground, recreational facility or children’s camp.

Sex offenders who violate the new sex offender restricted zones will be charged with a Class D crime.

The new law also creates a new Class E crime of prohibited contact with a minor. The law makes it a crime for a sex offender to have contact with a child under the age of 14.
- So if a child is drowning or about to get hit by a car, and a sex offender happens to be near by, I guess the kid will just die then. The sex offender is not going to want to try to save the child, and from this law, it looks like that is what it's saying. I can see it now though. Some kid is going to die, and someone will say, how come you did nothing to save my kid?

Sen. Diamond said he hopes the new law will help clear up residency issue problems that have been created in communities across Maine when trying to deal with sex offenders.

“We need a law which protects our children and our citizens and at the same time avoids the costly expense of court challenges to laws that may be well-intentioned but found to be unconstitutional or ultimately ineffective. I believe this new will help solve this problem.”
- No law will protect everyone, that is impossible. This is all a false sense of security. You need to focus on getting offenders treatment at the first crime committed, this would possibly cut down on a lot of future crimes, but not all. There is some people that will continue to commit crimes regardless of what you do.

Residency restriction laws for sex offenders have come under fire in many of the 22 states that have adopted them. At least six states have faced court challenges based on constitutional questions including California, Georgia and Iowa.

Iowa's residency law (prohibits sex offenders from living within 2000 feet of school or child-care centers) is one of the toughest in the country. Some district attorneys and law enforcement agencies, however, are pushing to repeal their laws partly because the laws are so extreme, some sex offenders are not registering and are going undetected.

Another side effect to many residency laws is they virtually eliminate the possibility of sex offenders living in cities because it would be impossible to find housing not within 2,000 feet of locations such as playgrounds, schools, and day-care centers where children gather.

As a result, sex offenders often move to a more rural location, which often puts a greater burden on those towns. For example, in New Jersey, 113 cities have sex offender residency restrictions prohibiting them from living within those communities. Due to the geographic living challenges, many sex offenders refuse to register or they move to a more rural area.

“I believe this new law will strike a balance between the safety of our children without forcing rural communities to house all of the sex offenders,” said Sen. Diamond.
- I agree!

The bill now goes onto Gov. John Baldacci for consideration.

More information about the bill is online at:

http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/externalsiteframe.asp?ID=280024282&LD=1491&Type=1&SessionID=7


Penny J. Umstattd - Assumes all accused are guilty!

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From what I am reading from this "lawyer", they are basically assuming all accused of a sex crime against a child are guilty! Anyone else see the same? This is one sad excuse for a lawyer. Here is their web site. It shocks me to hear this from a lawyer!!! If you know anyone looking for a lawyer, don't go here!! Time to visit the BBB and the Missouri Bar Association! Her bar # is 38166, report her!

06/17/2007

Penny J. Umstattd-Cope

I'm a criminal defense attorney. However, there are some cases that I choose not to take. One type of case I will not take is child abuse - whether physical or sexual. To me, there is no excuse for abusing a child. I will defend a person accused of murder, drugs, etc., but not abusing a child. I know that everyone deserves to be represented by an attorney. I support that but I also know that I will not be that attorney. Why? Because the defendant deserves the best representation he or she can receive. I am not that attorney because of my feelings on the subject.
- So she assumes everyone accused of a crime against a child is guilty! And she says "I know that everyone deserves to be represented", but she won't. Hypocrite! Why are you in the business then? To get rich apparently, and you assume all are guilty until proven innocent, I assume. You are pathetic, IMO!

With that stated, I want to get to the subject of this post - Missouri's Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA), also known as Megan's Law. This is the law that requires certain sexual offenders to register with the chief law enforcement official (usually the sheriff) in the county where the offender resides. These offenders include any person who has been convicted or pled guilty to a felony offense under chapter 566, including sexual trafficking of a child and sexual trafficking of a child under 12, and any offense under chapter 566 where the victim was a minor. The offender has to fill out a form that has been designed by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. This information is then sent by the chief law enforcement official to the Missouri State Highway Patrol where the information is put into the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System (MULES) to be viewed by other law enforcement officials and prosecuting attorneys. Some of this information is also posted online and made available to the general public. The public can look to see whether a certain individual may be a sex offender or if there are sex offenders living in a certain area. I admit, I have looked to see whether there are sex offenders living near my residence. Thankfully I found none.

In most circumstances the sex offender must register for his or her lifetime. However, under the statute (section 589.400) there are certain offenses that allow for the offender to petition the court for removal from the registration requirements. These include those who were convicted of promoting prostitution in the 2nd and 3rd degree, public display of explicit sexual material, statutory rape in the 2nd degree, and no physical force or threat of physical force was used. Those convicted of these offenses may petition the court after 10 years to be removed from the registration requirements. Also, those who were 19 years of age or younger and the victim was 13 years of age or older may petition the court after 2 years. All who petition the court have to prove that they fall into one of the categories that allow the petition, that they have complied with the provisions of the statute, and they are not a current or potential threat to public safety. If the offender cannot prove these elements, the offender is not entitled to the removal. And, even if the offender does prove these elements, the court does not have to grant the removal. If the court denies the removal, the offender must wait for twelve months before petitioning the court again.

Why is this on my mind? I have recently had to do research on this matter in order to keep an offender from being removed from the registration requirement. The removal from the registration requirement is a civil matter and I was hired to defend the registration. This offender pled guilty to the class D felony of sexual abuse with a child, his child, who was 6 years old at the time. I do not want this man released from the requirement to register for the remainder of his life. At this time the court hasn't made a ruling. I will keep you posted.
- So why did they want to be removed? What was their crime? It might help if you published some details! So we can see if you are correct or incorrect at doing so.


Effingham woman rallies to evict sex offender

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I'm glad this lady files a harassment suit against this vigilante. There is a temporary restraining order for the bus stop issue, so she can live right next to one, so get over it!!!

06/17/2007

Lakeside Farms resident Tammy Blackmon has been leading a charge to rid her Effingham County neighborhood of a convicted sex offender.

Blackmon has been at it ever since she learned in early April the offender had moved behind her house and failed to register with county officials. She said she and other neighborhood residents are concerned their new neighbor poses a threat to their children.

Melinda Lee Moore was arrested April 24 by Effingham County sheriff's deputies after she moved into a home at 132 McLellan Road and subsequently was accused of failing to register as a sex offender in Effingham County. She is out of jail on bond, awaiting trial.

Past convictions

In 1995, records show, Moore pleaded guilty to five counts of child molestation and one count of sexual battery. In 1999, she was sentenced to 18 months in a detention center for violating her parole by providing alcohol to a minor.

Blackmon said she and other Lakeside Farms residents have hung more than 200 posters throughout the neighborhood identifying Moore as a sex offender.

Moore filed a harassment report against Blackmon in April after the fliers were posted.

Moore could not be reached for comment because her telephone would not accept incoming calls.

Blackmon said Moore should be ousted from the neighborhood because of her proximity to two school bus stops.
- Bus stops are NOT part of the law, there is a TRO to prevent police from kicking her out because of this. Sorry!!

A Georgia law still on the books has made it illegal for sex offenders to reside within 1,000 yards of areas where children congregate. That includes school bus stops. Moore lives about 500 yards from two bus stops on Zeigler Road.
- You are wrong! A TRO is placed on this for the bus stops, so you cannot force anyone away due to that.

However, Effingham County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said he and his deputies cannot enforce the law covering bus stops because the Georgia Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional.
- This is true!

And with nearly every sheriff in the state being sued by a north Georgia sex offender who was forced to move, the situation has grown even more problematic, he said.

In addition, McDuffie said, at least 54 of the 68 registered sex offenders in Effingham County reside within 1,000 yards of a school bus stop, and he does not have the manpower or the resources to make them all move, even if he could do so under the law.

Tough to keep up

Adding to the challenge is the department's difficulty in handling all the paperwork involved in tracking offenders.

The sheriff's department is required to keep updated lists of sex offenders at the department as well as at the county's schools, the county administrative building and the libraries.

McDuffie said the department also has a hard time verifying that sex offenders actually live at their registered addresses.

He said he had to take all of his criminal investigators off their investigations Thursday just to get caught up on the verifications.

McDuffie has explained the situation to the Effingham County Commission and said he is asking for funds to pay for a sex offender registrar in next year's budget. But, the sheriff said, commissioners have indicated the new position would not be approved because it cannot be funded.

"I see it as a safety issue more so than just a position," McDuffie said. "This is a serious situation."


Investigation: Sex Offender Web Site Has Flaws

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More misleading BS! Sex Offenders are not finding ways to do this, the police entering the data are screwing up. Don't blame someone who is not at fault. Human error!!!

04/27/2007

Sex Offenders Find Ways To Mask Their Addresses In Database
- Wrong! The police are screwing up! Put the blame where it belongs!

MIAMI -- Parents across South Florida are voicing their concern after Local 10 exposed a frightening flaw in the state's warning system about sexual predators.

Local 10's investigation has discovered dozens of offenders are literally invisible on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement sex offender Web site. While the site is supposed to warn people about registered sex offenders in their area, Local 10 found neighborhoods with "invisible sex offenders" from the northern reaches of Broward County all the way south through Miami-Dade to Homestead, including one neighborhood near an elementary school.
- So the police are REALLY screwing up. So I guess they'll be arresting these sex offenders for their own screw ups?

Doris Garcia of Homestead said she frequently checks the FDLE web site.

"It's a good site. It keeps us informed," said Garcia.
- How? The police enter the data wrong, so how is this protecting anyone? Even if the data was correct the registries do not protect anyone, they are false security!

Local 10's Julie Summers told Garcia that there was at least one sex offender who lived just steps away from Garcia's home, but he was not registered to the address.

"How does that go through?" said Garcia.
- From cops entering data wrong, and then they check the registry, and the people do not show up, so they do not check on them, it's their fault!

Offenders "slip through" because of shockingly simple errors when a convicted criminal's address is typed into the database, Local 10 reported.
- Yes, entered by the police, so by saying sex offenders are finding ways to hide is BS! They are doing what they should be doing, it's the police screwing up!

One sex offender, Eric Flowers, who lives just steps away from the Garcia family's home, has his address listed as a jumble of information. The warning map never revealed that he lives right on the edge of Leisure City Elementary School.

One offender cannot be mapped because his address is missing a space between Northwest and 196th Street. Sometimes it's an extra space that creates an invisible offender, like a typographical error between the letters "n" and "w."

Local 10 found offenders who were allowed to list an intersection as their home and others who claim non-existent addresses.

The state, for example, allowed sex offender Andrew Meklas to list his address on North Andrews Boulevard instead of North Andrews Avenue, which means parents in this neighborhood had no idea he might be nearby.

In one case Local 10 found the state typed in a Dunkin Donuts shop as the permanent home of registered sex offender Jay Loewy.

"I'm actually shocked. I'm very shocked that he put that as his address and they accepted it! Wow. That's wrong," said parent Veronica Cortes, who lives near the doughnut shop.

Computer expert Dr. Eric Ackerman of Nova Southeastern University, who helped us uncover the problem, said the errors are unacceptable.
- So punish the dumb cops who make the mistakes.

"It's one thing to have just misspelled abbreviations or misspelled cities, but to not have addresses that can map, which means that person is literally invisible, it gives a false sense of security," said Ackerman.
- The registry in itself does the same. It's a false sense of security, even if the data was correct!

The FDLE said it was not aware of the problem until Local 10 brought it to their attention.

They've now asked Ackerman for some suggestions to look into possible ways to address the issue.
- The data is kept in a database, go through the database and fix typos and fix incorrectly named streets. You created this nightmare, fix it! Have fun doing so!!!


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